The Constitution of Afghanistan and Women’s Rights


Shah, Niaz A. 2005. “The Constitution of Afghanistan and Women’s Rights.” Feminist Legal Studies 13: 239-58.

Author: Niaz A. Shah


This article argues that women's human rights were and are being violated in Afghanistan regardless of who governs the country: Kings, secular rulers, Mujahideen or Taliban, or the incumbent internationally backed government of Karzai. The provisions of the new constitution regarding women's rights are analysed under three categories: neutral, protective and discriminatory. It is argued that the current constitution is a step in the right direction but, far from protecting women's rights effectively, it requires substantial revamping. The constitutional commitment to international human rights standards seems to be a hallow slogan as the constitution declares Islam as a state religion which clearly conflicts wiht women's human rights standards in certain areas. The Constitution has empowered the Supreme Court to review whether human rights instruments are compatible with Islamic legal norms and, in case of conflict, precedence will be given to Islamic law. Keeping this in view, it is argued that Afghanistan's ratification of the Women's Convention without reservations has no real significance unless Islamic law dealing with women's rights is reformed and reconciled with international women's rights standards.

Keywords: conflict resolution, Constitution, incompatibility, Islam, reservations, review, women's human rights

Topics: Gender, Women, Governance, Constitutions, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights Regions: Asia, Middle East, South Asia Countries: Afghanistan

Year: 2005

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at